“It is not the greatness of our actions that matters
but the amount of love that we put into them.” ~Mother Teresa
A moral theology of happiness gives humanity the opportunity to live the most authentic human life possible because of the transforming power of charity. Through charity all discussion of evil, sin, suffering, and free-will is given the potential to be transfigured into the highest good, thereby pointing the way to the ultimate end of eternal happiness. Modern ethicists diminish the role of charity within moral life to the greatest peril of mankind. For a moral theology of obligation will only collapse unto itself, for without the full truth what it means to be human within the moral framework, modern morality fails to give meaning to human life.
The modern school of a moral theology of obligation reduces the definitive meaning and purpose to the most pressing questions that all humanity confronts. What is the true meaning of evil, sin, suffering, and free-will within the mystery of human life? Modern ethicists, according to Fr. Pinckaer do not even attempt to find the essential meaning of these questions and often exclude those questions all together, for their theology of moral obligation reduces the human heart to less than it is meant to be. Through this reduction of the fullest potential of a human life, modern thought leaves a great emptiness for all humanity. For instead of seeking what Man truly longs for in the depth of his heart, man looks to pleasure, power, money, or any “god” to fill the void, what Fr. Picnkaer calls the “the chasm of meaningless.”
By failing to address the deep need to have true meaning in life modern ethics open the human person to become a slave to sin and obligation. Without true understanding of the innate dignity that the Lord has given to man in the gift of free-will, man gives himself away when ever he misuses the gift. Thereby through the disordered use of free-will, man becoming less human. Free-will is the gift that God gave uniquely to mankind and in its truest sense, where the human heart is truly free – free-will is the gift to choose goodness, beauty, and truth. Eve eating from the tree of knowledge was her misusing her free-will to supersede the Lord’s divine authority and understanding of good. From this single act man could see that which is not good within him and others. Concupiscence, the disorder of the human passions, is where the fallen heart brought death and suffering into the world. By rejecting the true meaning of free-will man gives himself away in a disordered manner which is sin. Through the choice to sin the human heart rejects its highest good and embraces the actuality of evil. Sin becomes the lack of anything good, beautiful, or true within a person’s action or evil acts.
By rejecting the highest meaning of human free-will, the definitive goal for happiness becomes impossible to be reached. For humanity can not cross the great chasm that has grown through his actions between his extreme good and his dehumanized self. The elemental struggle between the light and darkness of the human soul is undertaken within the deficient will.
Because of sins entrance within the world, evil has found the potentiality to dwell within creation and the human heart. Evil being the absence of all that is good, beauty, and true in its fullest significance. There are several forms of evil that manifest themselves within human life. Physical evil, the deprivation of anything good, can be human suffering from the lack of good, such as physical sickness or spiritual pain. Moral evil is caused by the free-will choosing against the will of God in any context.
Ultimately that which is worst is moral evil, for it does the most harm to the human soul. Physical evil can open the human heart to turn towards God with more ease, in contrast to the moral evil that turns the heart away from the divine will of God. Physical evil can befall the innocent and malicious equally, but the heart who freely chooses an intrinsic moral evil is acting freely with offensive cunning. So moral evil is the worst a human being can do in life and leads to the mortal death of the soul. Simply put those who do evil suffer the most harm then those who suffer from their evil actions. “Forgive them Lord, for they do not know what they do.”
Human suffering is caused as stated before by physical evil. Without a definitive understanding of human life and its meaning suffering becomes unbearable and can lead to despair-- the death of the soul. Just witnessing a funeral of those who do not have any faith is excruciating for death has no meaning, no purpose. To their minds and hearts it is the final end, and pointless. The grief is overwhelming to the human heart and thereby oppresses and crushes the spirit under its weight. Going to a non-Catholic funeral can be an intense experience of deprivation and darkness. Hope ceases to be.
But Christian morality has the supreme answer to all these deep abiding questions to life. For a moral theology of happiness has the answers every heart longs for, because it directs the heart to its supreme end and good. Every suffering the human soul experiences develops “meaning, value, and wholeness.”
Moral theology geared towards the eternal happiness allows charity to manifest itself in the most distressed events and places within human life. Suffering is the opposite of happiness. But it is only in suffering that a person is able to truly recognize true happiness. Through the deprivation of happiness most people are too busy within the confines of modern life and fail to recognize it before suffering visits them. In the midst of suffering they can not help but see that it is missing in their life. Suffering opens the door for genuine desire for the ultimate good and end of eternal happiness.
Also through charity suffering actually becomes a means to enter the Kingdom of God as Christ described in his Beatitudes. Through suffering a person is given the opportunity to love in a new way, to carry their cross per say. Suffering turns the human heart upside down and causes it to concentrate on those things that really matter in life. For in suffering the distractions of life are not as freely experienced as before. Through suffering a person is given the chance to look deeply within the self. If the suffering is then seen in light of the cross of Christ the soul can allow the suffering to be offered for the supreme good of not just themselves but for others. For suffering births hope and opens the heart to be cleansed and filled with divine charity of the Lord. Through suffering the human heart grows in its capacity for love, compassion, and solidarity. Suffering opens up the possibility of looking beyond the self to the greatest good of the other.
Charity in its essential consequence is sacrificial in its essence and true nature. Through charity the human heart is able to see the radiant beauty of the persons they are relating to through out their lives. Christian charity opens the heart to recognize the divine nature and beauty within all. This opens up major possibilities in transforming the very nature of morality. For no longer are moral actions just obligations, but they are actions to draw out the greatest good for others out of love. The ultimate end of the action taken is for the ultimate good, not just because someone is obligated to do something. “God sees the heart of man.” An action maybe good and moral, but it is the root of the heart that motivates the action taken and if that root is lifeless and done without love, it is not a fertile authentic moral action. The moral action of obligation is fake and superficial. Self-love even in the act of generosity is still self-seeking and not an act of love. For true generosity does not seek any award of any kind. Christian love and charity is a call to die unto the self. A moral action should be a gift of self to the other, either to God or another person, completed out of love.
The one who is truly living a moral life focused on the ultimate eternal good is a person who will bare the fruit of the Holy Spirit within their Life. Through humility the human heart can manifest the perfect self-love that truly acts in true charity towards another.
The supreme meaning of charity with moral theology is the perfect Charity, God who is love. For within the divine nature of God to be love, he can take any situation in human life and work it towards the ultimate good of man. That means evil does not have the final say in all things. God is infinite and knows and understands all things. Through His eternal self, he constantly lives within the divine moment, where everything that ever was, and ever will be is completely presence within the divine moment. He knew that in allowing free-will he was allowing the potentially of evil to be present in the world and human life. God is fully aware of every choice a human will make before they make it. Which raises a big fundamental question in regards to moral theology? If God in his divine and perfect will thought it of the utmost importance to give man free-will, then the choice man makes to do good or evil is so vital the relationship between man and the divine. God did not want automatic robots that would always do his divine will. He wanted his creatures made in his image and likeness to truly freely love him wholly and entirely through an act of free-will.
So the moral theology of happiness that is discussed within Fr. Picknaer’s book is crucial to embracing the fullness of the meaning of human life. For through God’s divine revelation within the beginning of creation -- the universal the foundation for the proper understanding of the moral life was set down and is seen within the context of charity for the ultimate goal and end of complete union with God. Mother Teresa said it best, “There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.”
Copyrighted October 2008 by Janelle M Wingert